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James Phelan: Following in uncle's footsteps

James Phelan: Trickster is at Norden Farm on Friday, September 22

James Phelan: Following in uncle's footsteps

The nephew of Berkshire’s most celebrated magician has revealed how he used to watch re-runs of his uncle’s show until he figured out his secrets.

James Phelan, 24, has been learning magic since he was a child.

He said he remembers visiting the house of his uncle, the late Paul Daniels, who lived in Wargrave with his wife Debbie McGee, when he was little.

He added: “I was at school when I was about five years old and my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

“I said a magician, and she said, ‘you will never make any money doing that’.

“I used to do shows at school and my auntie and uncle would come and watch. As I got older I would go around to his house and play with all his old props.”

James said his uncle was obviously a huge influence on him growing up and recalls going to his shows with his parents.

“I remember there being lots of people wanting his autograph,” James added. “I didn’t think it was out of the ordinary.

“I’d go home and watch his shows over and over again until I figured out how he had done each trick and then I would show him,” he said.

Last year James was considered one of the favourites on Britain’s Got Talent, before his uncle’s untimely death in March.

James said that he knew his uncle was sick before he went on the show but couldn’t really say anything.

And while he was upset at the time he is in a much better frame of mind now.

“I went on stage nervous and knowing how he was in the back of my mind. I never really had the confidence to go for it as a career before, after he died, I just thought – life is too short.

“Everyone goes through moments where they doubt themselves but because I know the humble background he came from it helps instill that self-belief.

“I couldn’t have had a better teacher or role model.”

When asked what inspiration he took from his uncle’s show he said: “I remember hysterically laughing.

“I like the idea of laugh-out-loud comedy.

“I wanted to create a show where people can escape from the norm.”

James has been writing ideas and piecing his show together for about a year-and-a-half.

He describes his show as a night of light-hearted, prank-focused magic, using audience participation to comic effect.

“I will hypnotise guys to forget their girlfriends and drop people’s phones in water and stuff like that,” he said.

“It’s a good night out for people who want a good time.

“I’m really enjoying it at the moment and doing the best I can.”

Some of the profits from his show will go to Brain Tumour Research as it’s an organisation that James says doesn't get enough funding for the work that it does.

James will also be at Reading South Street on Saturday, September 9.


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